Here's a bit of ramble. I am about to plagiarize myself and write down the words I've already written, but I've been mulling on this for a few days now. Perhaps the best answer to your question is that I am, on my best days, a comedy of errors. Here's a day in a life:

I tripped the alarm in Kiet's shop the other day. No surprise there - I never learned how to turn it off. I've been showing up for everyone else for years, at expense of showing up to so many parts of my life. It is a choice a made and it has given me so much purpose and joy. It is also a choice that was made so much easier by the fact that Kiet just goes with it and cares for me (and by extension for all the families he will never meet). But the other morning, I tried to call him back and he didn't answer. I figured he was welding or something, so didn't think about it more. An hour later, I tried calling again and there was still no answer. I texted: Are you ok? No answer. I stopped by the house and he wasn't there. And then, the "I worry all the time now" switch turned on and I was convinced he fell from a great height, welder in-hand, fractured ribs, broken back, traumatic brain injury. I called again. No answer. I told myself I was nuts, but just in case, I would stop by the shop and say hi, so I can go back to work in peace. He wasn't parked outside the shop. He's been working on a camper-build and I figured he's just moved the vehicle inside, so I used my key and walked through the office. All was quiet. I open the door to the shop - no Kiet and no truck. The alarm goes off. I just stand there and think: Well, f*&k. I know the security company will call him, but he's not answering. They call me. They are about to turn the alarm off, as I remember that he's meeting with a client (which he clearly told me, while I was thinking a million other things last night). The alarm goes quiet. Thank God. I'm clearly nuts. They need the passcode to leave it off. Of course, I have no idea - though it was told to me before. Now, they have to dispatch the police. I should just stay there and let them know it's all my fault and it's all good. But I don't. I decide to drive to his meeting, which I now remember entirely, and ask him to fix it. Because I know he will. He always does. I interrupt the meeting, like a clueless 40-some-year-old child. Kiet calls the company, calls off the cops, gets the alarm turned off, and then looks at me. He doesn't call me crazy (as he should), doesn't make fun of me (as most would), doesn't curse or shake his head. He just looks at me lovingly and says: Are you ok? The end.

I hope when this is all said and done, I too am someone remembered for such a reaction. Here's to all those caring for the irrational in us. And writing our names on the keys and coffee cups, so they can find their way back to us.

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I am a writer of poems, mostly about surviving childhood trauma and the lasting affects of anxiety, depression, and CPTSD from those experiences. I am a teacher of high school English, but my favorite are my English Language Learners. They bring me so much joy. I am also the advisor for my school's GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) club. I guess I've made it part of my life's calling to try to make a place and a voice for the "outcasts" and "unwanteds." But that's often the only part of my life that makes any sense and makes me feel like I matter. I'm also someone very excited to get her second Tyler Knott Gregson tattoo in 18 more days!

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"you" / "I" / "me" -- i'm not sure what these words mean -- i like Ana Do's response, to just describe a day in the life -- Ana Do is nothing more or less than her entire life experience until now -- every day is a discovery, an enrichment -- i feel like each person is a vast body of moving water and maybe each day we get a little scoop of it and put a cool drop in the mouth and some spills out through the teeth onto the lips down the shirt, and back into the river, but there is a reverence for the power and the unknown underneath, at most we get a little glimpse now and then of who we are, a little taste, and maybe we start to understand that all the bodies of water ultimately intersect in myriad ways so that whatever little glimpses and tastes we get of that water is really a glimpse not of ourself but of humanity as a collective

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I would rather nod, agree or even apologize, in all of my Canadian glory, rather than speak up for myself, in case a sudden burst of confidence may challenge or take someone else aback. I am a harmony keeper, desperate to show others that I err on the bright side, even when all of the sides aren't especially bright.

I am a former journalist who doesn't miss the grind or the headlines but remembers, always, the joy that came from filling my pockets with the simplest stories that boiled down to people loving each other that they trusted me to tell.

I am the wife of a sailor who never rocks the boat even when the weight of living most of our life apart from each other seems to get heavier all the time. Being supportive and proud doesn't afford much room for also feeling worn out. I am 41, but feel 25, and the lines that have started to creep in around my eyes surprise me every time I see them in the mirror. I spend my days forcing myself to chase the joy, reminding myself not to yearn too much for a simpler, more joyful tomorrow when we will live in the same house that we affectionately call our "Someday". I carry the pain of the three miscarriages I've suffered over the past three years, each time by myself with him away from home, in my heart, and grapple to come to terms with how abruptly the trying stopped and the giving up happened, but didn't really, and the way the truth that sometimes you don't get your rainbow actually takes my breath away. I equate my worth to the strength I am able to show so I forbid myself to slow down, show struggle, to be less than capable of carrying all of the things that are so very heavy. Everyone who knows me would describe me as someone who is incredibly positive, who lifts everyone up and shines a bright, joyful light.

If they see that it's working I think.

I worry that all will be left when that sweet "Someday" I yearn for comes, when I look in the mirror, will be a shadow of the me that I was, a more dim, weathered version, shaking my head about all of the time and youth we wasted, surprised to find still more lines in the face peering back, etched more by sorrow and loneliness than laughter.

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Dear Chasers, Hello, I am a new member. My name is André Oberlé and I am 76 years old (you’ll see why that is pertinent in a moment. I will introduce myself with two poems. The first one is a Death Poem — no, that’s not morbid, especially at my age and the pandemic. Besides, death is a natural thing.. I am a Buddhist in spirit. How do you introduce yourself. Well, you can furnish a biography, but that isn’t that helpful. I will give you a death poem instead. The idea of the Death Poem is common in East-Asian cultures and has a centuries-old tradition. It may be written as a haiku (in 3 lines of 21 syllables), but the tanka form (5 lines of 31 syllables) is more prevalent.

Zen Buddhists and other Buddhists celebrate this tradition of composing a brief poetic summary of their life and the experience of their death as they face impending death. The statement is usually conciliatory but may also be a satire. I don’t need sarcasm for this. I am at peace.

André Oberlé’s Tanka Death Poem

I have no regrets —

life was full of pain and joy

doled out in balance

I feel content and cherished

all is good, and now — farewell!

I will send you a more biographical summary in verse of who I am in a separate post.

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Hello everyone! I'm a written word addict, both in creating and reading. The pandemic hit me like a tidal wave, and dissipated my solid plan of moving off island, forced me to re-think my future and take more time to breathe, walk and connect. My freckles, pale unsunworthy skin and auburn hair do not fit on a tropical island, and I stick out here, but as a happily solitary person, I don't mind. This community is one of the good things to be born of the pandemic. I hope we are all learning to center and focus for whatever we envision. Thanks all of you for listening.

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That really is the lifelong question for all of us. Who am I? Who do I think I am, who do I want to be, who have I been and who do I hope to be? At soon-to-be 54, I do not know this answer, yet I have sought it for as long as I can remember. And just as I thought I had defined myself, life changed, even sometimes so subtly, and I changed. Are we not a myriad of identifies, reflecting the person different people see depending on who they are in our lives? Even that changes over time. As a mother of two still teenage boys, how they see their mother has changed, as my role in their lives has, as I have chosen to reveal myself, and how their own understanding has changed. And this metamorphosis is similar in my other “roles” as wife, sister, daughter, colleague, neighbour, etc. But surely there must be constants in our character, good and “bad”. What is our “backstage”, to use Erving Goffman’s term (from the classic “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”)? What are the stories we tell about ourselves? I don’t mean how we portray ourselves on social media, but the narratives we whisper only to ourselves, those truths. Check out this thought-provoking song by Matthew and the Atlas called “Another Way” that begins thus:

“Some day soon

I’ll live as I should have lived

Love as I should have loved

Give as I should have gave...”

You really have to listen to it to do it justice.

Perhaps you were really after one of those introductions like we give at social gatherings when we don’t know many people: “So what is it that you do?” but I don’t think so. I really liked this question- it was so immediately thought-provoking and I was anxious to read how others had answered. Because that’s really what we should want to ask when we meet someone: “So, who are you?”

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Who am I and what have I realised about myself? This is such a beautiful question because the moment we begin to answer that, there is a spiral that takes us deeper within ourselves.

I first asked this question when I was 5 in my mother tongue and when no response came, except the pressure of trying to force one - I gave up.

Now I'm 27 and I have more experiences - enough to show me who I've been - but when I grasp hold of them they feel like heavy weights. Sometimes they still leave me stuck in a loop and I am not really any closer than I was when I was 5 - but I have a lot more wiring.

I realised I betrayed myself. The feeling I would try to distract myself from had a name when I meditated and finally let it be, but surprisingly, existential dread was a liberator. In the face of existential dread, the things that had mattered... for much of my twenties it seems, actually didn't. I know I have contradictions but the deeper I go the more seamless it all is. I realised I would rather live a life true to the interiority of my being, and die laughing.

Thanks for this newsletter. :)

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Jan 13, 2021Liked by Tyler Knott Gregson

ANDRÉ OBERLE — Born in Germany in 1944, by a single mother who married a stepfather for me—as she put it—when I was six years old. Unfortunately, I then grew up in a broken home with a violent drunkard as a “father” and an irrational mother. After several suicide attempts, he emigrated to Canada. One year later he made my mother and me (I was 14) move to Canada.

Despite inadequate English language skilIs, I finished high school in Toronto and was accepted into the University of Toronto’s Honors Program where I earned my BA (Hons) and MA. I married my sweetheart, Cathy, in 1969 and I became a professor at the University of Winnipeg teaching theater and German Culture Studies. I earned my PhD in German Studies in Kingston, Ontario.

Back in Winnipeg, I became department head, a dean of curriculum and faculty development. I also founded the University of Winnipeg’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning and became its director. At the same time, we bought a small sheep farm as a hobby farm south of Winnipeg.

My wife and companion of 35 wonderful years died in 1999, and, after 37 years of service, I retired from the Univer­sity of Winnipeg in 2005 and moved to Scran­ton, PA in the United States to become the director of the Center for Teach­ing and Learning Excellence at the University of Scranton.

I retired from that post in 2011 and now live in Connecticut with my husband Ed whom I married in 2009. We are happy traveling, and playing with our wonderful grandchildren, and just taking it easy. Oh, and I continue to write reams and reams of poetry—just for myself. I am very spiritual, artistic, Gay, Buddhist without a sangha, a pronounced empath. I adore animals and nature, love to cook, find music necessary, read incessantly, etc.


want to know yourself?

well, that’s rather difficult—

the mirror and you

are just not the same at all

you see what you want to see


so, what can we do?

first, let go of what you’re not

then, just build from scratch—

ask what things you are for sure

meditate and work on it


most importantly

keep an open mind to change—

question if you think

you are absolutely sure

don’t ignore thing you don’t like


keep working at it

you’re still a work in progress

rough sketch at best

don’t despair and you’ll succeed

Rome was not built in one day

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Whenever I'm asked to define myself, I immediately think of my job (book editor). But when I think about the people I love to get a sense of who they are, their jobs fall very low on the list of what I feel defines them. I am many things beyond my work, and I need to constantly remind myself of that. The pandemic is helping me to look more closely at how multifaceted I am.

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Who am I? What day is it and what was the thing that evolved who I was, as recently as yesterday? I find that such an.....amusing.... question. Probably because I feel like a moving river.... I'm still the same "me" I was yesterday on the outside, but you're looking at totally different water. That said, I've often been fascinated by the attempts at creating a container, a definition, a snapshot in time for our *identity* and *character*. And then are we a person with a soul or a soul with a body? And what does THAT mean? One trip through a past life regression throws a lot of what I thought I knew into question. But I'll attempt an answer...

After a PLR, I learned that I'm a soul with 237 incarnations. I seem to have come this time by deliberate choice and to be a catalyst of shift. In that sort of a vein, I've brought forward my previous lives as a doctor and a medicine woman (among others) to this one, as I've been called to healing and spirituality as a Reiki Master. It looks like I was born to a Sun sign of Virgo and Moon/Rising of Capricorn, both Earth signs, because I'm in a constant state of observation, analysis, and making order of chaos....in nearly everything I touch, personally and professionally. When I did a personal development program in archetypes and shadow work, I best fit the archetypes of Challenger/Warrior and Shaman. Which again, fits my repeated role of teacher/counselor/advocate and the spiritual calling that rhymes with my past life. It's been decades and I have found myself time and time again in the role of catalyst. I spark a fire and off it goes. People ask me questions and I channel the response....I'm in partnership with spirit now. Is it any wonder my high school aptitude test indicated "military chaplain"? It's as close as you're going to get for an authoritative woman that is here to evolve and foster the growth of those who are ready.

These layers have come over time....the past two decades have seen more layers of evolution as I grow into this role than seems possible, looking back. In fact, the most meaningful thing my husband has ever said to me runs counter to the cliche "You're not the woman I married." Rather, he told me, "I always knew you were a witch, a wise woman, and nothing is more fascinating than watching how you grow and evolve the longer we're together. You keep becoming more and more of who you are and I'm never bored." I'd never felt so seen as when he said that... because he honors my mission. I can't stop catalyzing...for myself, for others... it's the closest thing I have to a definition that sticks...I break to keep fixing, burn to be reborn, shift to make more room for growth....who am I? A constant burn (fire), a hollow bone (air), a soul on a growth mission(Earth), and in a constant state of shift(water). I'm whatever the Universe leads me to become next, and my greatest challenge is to stand at the center of all of these things and remain steady. When I spent some time on intuitive development my three core values were this: integrity/honesty, love/compassion, and growth/expansion. I'm just going to keep going. 😉

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